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What are the Different Types of Sushi?

Wanda Albano
Wanda Albano

Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that is enjoyed the world over. Connoisseurs and neophytes alike often think that the term is synonymous with slices of raw fish. Contrary to popular belief, however, it does not actually mean raw fish or uncooked seafood. Instead, the term refers to the vinegared rice that may or may not accompany the thin slices of raw seafood served at sushi restaurants. The correct term for raw seafood is sashimi.

Sushi is often divided into five basic kinds.

Maki sushi.
Maki sushi.

The most common types and the ones most people are familiar with are the maki and nigiri sushi. Maki sushi often consists of a layer of rice, seaweed, and fish or vegetables rolled into a cylinder, usually with the aid of a makisu or bamboo mat. The roll or log is then cut into appropriate widths. The thicker rolls are called futomaki, the thinner ones are known as hosomaki, and the inside-out rolls are termed uramaki. The California roll, the Boston roll, and the spider roll are some of the well-known examples of this kind.

Shrimp tempura roll.
Shrimp tempura roll.

Nigiri is made by topping vinegared rice with a dab of wasabi and a thin, bite-size slice of either egg, fish, or other seafood. The egg is always cooked, but the fish and the seafood may be served raw. Fish usually used in this type include various types of tuna, salmon, eel, and mackerel. When eating it, be careful that you do not dip the rice side into the soy sauce, as it may fall apart. Dip only the fish side. Alternately, you may opt not to dip the sushi in the soy sauce at all.

Temaki sushi is also often called a hand roll. This is similar to maki, except instead of rolling it into a cylinder and slicing it, the sushi is rolled by hand into the shape of a cone. It is not sliced but rather is eaten as is.

Chirashi sushi is not often seen in restaurants outside of Japan. It refers to a bowl of rice topped by a selection of sashimi or raw seafood.

Inari Sushi is even more uncommon. It is fried pouches of tofu stuffed with rice.

Nigiri sushi.
Nigiri sushi.

An order of sushi usually comes with a small bowl of fermented soy sauce, a dab of wasabi or Japanese horseradish, and a side of pickled ginger. You may or may not mix the wasabi into the bowl of soy sauce, depending on your tastes. The pickled ginger is supposed to be eaten between bites, as a way to cleanse the palate.

Discussion Comments


In Montgomery, Alabama, the best sushi is at Satsuki Japanese Restaurant, and for those of you scared or wanting to try sushi start out with a fried roll like a California roll or shrimp tempura. The warmth of the roll brings a flavor to the sushi that's to die for!


@ankara-- Oh wow. No! I can handle raw salmon and tuna and even eel, but I wouldn't be able to handle fish eggs in my sushi.

There seem to be sushi made from all sorts of sea creatures. But what about sea food like lobster, shrimp or mussels? Are these ever used in making sushi?


Has anyone had Tobiko?

This is a kind of sushi made from roe (fish eggs). It's made from the eggs of a kind of fish called flying fish.

I had this when I was in Japan and surprisingly, it's very good, not to mention that the appearance is really unique too.

When you look at it, you can see that it's just hundreds of little eggs and the eggs come in different colors. It's kind of salty but pretty good overall.


My friends love sushi and we end up going to sushi bars and restaurants a lot. I can't get myself to eat raw fish so I only vegetarian sushi. I know this is really odd for some people because sushi is traditionally made with raw fish. But vegetarian sushi is also really delicious and healthy.

My favorite kind is sushi with avocados, cucumbers and grated carrots. If I feel like being more healthy, I have it made with brown rice. Especially avocado in sushi is amazing! It's perfect with some seaweed salad and ginger pickles. Yum.


Though many of the sushi rolls at restaurants that contain crab also contain cream cheese, it is possible to find one or two that don't. I love crab in sushi, and my favorite roll contains crab, crawfish, and shrimp tempura.

The tempura is a batter that goes on meat and vegetables before they are fried. With this roll, the piece of shrimp tempura is on the outside, playing the role that rice usually plays.

The restaurant drizzles soy sauce and mango sauce across the plate, and I love dipping the sushi pieces in it. It's the perfect mix of sweet and salty.

The pickled ginger isn't bad, either. It's a little strong, but not nearly as strong as the wasabi, which I avoid altogether.


@orangey03 – Usually, sushi restaurant menus will separate the sushi rolls into “cooked” and “raw” categories. Many people fear the raw kind, so it's necessary for the menu to spell it out clearly.

Sometimes, they just put asterisks by one category and lump them all together. Either way, customers can easily tell which are cooked and which aren't.


The sushi bar at my favorite Japanese place sends out a free sample to every table. This way, people get to try things they normally wouldn't, and some of them wind up finding new favorite menu items.

I received a free sample of nigiri sushi on my first trip to this place, and I was hooked! I had never tasted anything like it before. Now, I go there once a week to get my fix!


I love hibachi Japanese food, but sushi is something I have always been afraid to try. After reading this article, I think I should go for it.

I always believed that all sushi contained raw fish. It's good to know that there are some cooked varieties.

I've been to Japanese restaurants with friends who have ordered sushi, and it always looked so gourmet and enticing. I am looking forward to trying it now.


@ Oasis11- If I ever visit Miami I will be sure to check out Kyojin. I love Sushi! I live in Phoenix, and my favorite Japanese sushi restaurant is Zen 32 in the Biltmore area.

They serve sushi until midnight. The Chefs make your sushi to order right in front of you, and the fish is always fresh. They also have about a hundred different types of sushi on the menu, so you can always find something to suit your taste. Zen's bar is open until 2:00 a.m. and they have a decent lunch and dinner menu.

I do not believe it is a chain, but I recommend Zen if you ever come to Phoenix.


I just want to say that one of the best sushi restaurants in South Miami is Kyojin. It is a buffet style restaurant that offers a wide variety of sushi.

They offer sashimi, tuna rolls, dragon rolls, but my favorite is the California and the salmon rolls. I love the avocado in the California roll and the mix of salmon with cream cheese in the salmon roll is incredible.

There is always a line to get in, but the food can’t be beat.

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    • Maki sushi.
      By: merydolla
      Maki sushi.
    • Shrimp tempura roll.
      By: Fotoluminate LLC
      Shrimp tempura roll.
    • Nigiri sushi.
      By: Alexey Laputin
      Nigiri sushi.
    • An array of various sushi types with wasabe and pickled ginger.
      By: Stanislav Komogorov
      An array of various sushi types with wasabe and pickled ginger.
    • Nigiri sushi assortment.
      Nigiri sushi assortment.
    • Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
      By: creative soul
      Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
    • A piece of futomaki.
      By: dimj
      A piece of futomaki.
    • Inari sushi is fried pouches of tofu stuffed with rice.
      Inari sushi is fried pouches of tofu stuffed with rice.
    • Some sushi has crab in it.
      By: nalineimages
      Some sushi has crab in it.
    • Sushi originated in the country of Japan.
      By: Paylessimages
      Sushi originated in the country of Japan.
    • Sushi is commonly served with wasabi.
      By: matin
      Sushi is commonly served with wasabi.
    • Nigiri and maki served on a platter.
      By: ilolab
      Nigiri and maki served on a platter.
    • The Boston roll is a well-known type of sushi roll.
      By: serkucher
      The Boston roll is a well-known type of sushi roll.